Bolivia : Bike Adventure in the highlands of the Andes

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From Lake Titicaca via the Salt Lake to the Death Road

Bolivia, the cradle of ancient cultures, is the heart of South America. Hardly any other country in Latin America is so original, both culturally and scenically. We meet the reserved, proud, predominantly indigenous people at their work in the gold mining towns, in the Salar de Uyuni with salt mining and in the fields with quinoa, corn and potato cultivation. Even today, the “cholitas” with their many colorful skirts and the typical bowler hats are part of the traditional village picture. During our adventurous journey we bike along the barren Cordillera Real, on the wide Altiplano at over 4000 m and down the death road into the tropical lowlands. The unique wildlife, the grandiose landscapes with volcanic cones, salt lakes, picturesque lagoons,

Highlights

  • Sun Island in Lake Titicaca
  • Flamingos at the colored lagoons
  • Biking on the largest salt lake in the world
  • “Carretera de la muerte”, the death road
  • Witches Market in La Paz

Travel Program

We fly to Sucre (2800 m), the official capital of Bolivia. (However, the seat of government is in La Paz.) We take it easy on this first day in the Andean country, strolling through the alleys, visiting some sights and tasting the “mate de coca” tea, which according to the locals helps with acclimatization .

Overnight stay: good city hotel in Sucre (2800 m)

Today we get to know the beautiful surroundings of Sucre. We explore the impressive mountains of Chataquila on foot. With the bikes we take a leisurely rolling tour through a green valley to the Maragua crater.

Bike route: 20 km, 500 m
ascent Overnight stay: good city hotel in Sucre (2800 m)

Initially with the support vehicles, then with the bikes we make our way to Potosi. Among other things, we enjoy a long downhill to the Rio Pulacayo. Thanks to silver mining, Potosi was one of the largest cities in the world in the 17th century, comparable to Paris or London. Even today, the mining of silver and tin is an important branch of the economy. It is not for nothing that the mountain next to the town is called “Cerro Rico”, rich mountain. On a walk through the silver city we visit, among other things, the Casa de Moneda, the former royal mint. Later we get on our mountain bikes again for the ride to today’s stage destination Cayara. The lower altitude is conducive to the acclimatization process. We spend the night in a historic hacienda.

Bike route: 25 km, 350 m ascent
Transfer: jeep 3-4 h
Overnight stay: historic hacienda in Cayara, outside of Potosi (3500 m)

Today we bike through the Andean highlands and let the silence and the impressive landscape enchant us. On the way we make a stop at a silver mine and learn a lot about the mining and the hard life of the workers. Shortly before Uyuni we visit the unique railway cemetery, with its rusty steam giants from bygone times. They lie bizarrely in the deserted steppe and offer wonderful photo subjects.

Bike route: 23 km, 100 m
ascent Overnight stay: good mid-range hotel in Uyuni (3650 m)

Our 4 x 4 vehicles take us to the starting point of today’s bike stage. Now it gets adventurous. We leave the dusty main road and bike along a secluded trail along glowing red rock formations. The high valley could be on a distant planet. Tired and content, we reach the original hotel built on a rock in Villa Mar. We enjoy a “mate de coca” tea and a cozy get-together by the warm stove fire.

Bike route: 40 km, 300 m ascent
Transfer: jeep 2 h
Overnight stay: original rock hotel in Villa Mar (4000 m)

We bike on gravel roads in secluded high valleys between imposing volcanic cones and past beautifully colored lagoons. In this spectacular landscape we can spot the shy vicuñas, flamingos and, with a bit of luck, viscachas, a native species of rodent, or even a desert fox. The wonderful light moods and the unique natural landscapes enchant us again and again.

Bike routes: Day 11: 42/70 km, 300/1000 m ascent, Day 12: 33/50 km, 350/450 m ascent
Overnight stay: two desert hotels (4450 m and 3650 m)

Today we experience one of the biggest highlights of Bolivia, the largest salt lake in the world, the Salar de Uyuni. After a coffee break on the cactus island Incahuasi, which is located in the middle of the salt lake, we jet over the flat salt crust. We experience the dimensions of this huge, white glowing salt surface, each in its own rhythm. We have enough time to take funny and original photos. In Colchani we learn more about salt production and stay overnight in a stylish salt hotel.

Bike route: 40/80 km, 0 m
elevation gain Overnight stay: Stylish salt hotel in Colchani (3650 m)

We take a domestic flight to La Paz. After a jeep ride across the barren Altiplano, we soon see the mighty, deep-blue Lake Titicaca on the edge of the snow-capped Cordillera Real. We mount the mountain bikes on the La Cumbre pass. Either on the main route or on uncompromising trails, we really let it rip through a rugged, secluded valley. We soon reach our destination, the former gold mining town of Sorata.

Bike route: 36 km, 200 m ascent
Transfer: Jeep 3-4 h
Overnight stay: Eco-lodge with a view of Mount Illampu, Sorata (2700 m)

Today we also test our downhill qualities at high altitudes. Views into deep gorges teach us to fear. At the foothills of the two 6000m Illampu and Ancohuma, we let ourselves be chauffeured to the Chuchu Pass at over 4500 meters. Depending on our mood, we bike on demanding trails or curve down a natural slope. Beautiful plays of light and clouds accompany our descents through abandoned mountain farming villages – while the gold miners wonder what we are looking for up here. After visiting the San Pedro grotto, we pedal back to our hotel.

Bike route: 32/40 km, 150/500 m
ascent Overnight stay: Eco-lodge with a view of Mount Illampu, Sorata (2700 m)

With the escort vehicle we drive through traditional villages and reach the strait of Lake Titicaca. A traditional, simple wooden ferry takes us to the other side. From here we swing onto the bike saddles and enjoy the hilly route over the back of the Copacabana Peninsula with beautiful views of the lake and the majestic snow-capped peaks of the Cordillera Real. For adventurous bikers, one of the routes leads on a single trail through wild terrain. If you prefer to take it easy, choose the gravel path. A boat takes us to the sunny island, where we reach our romantic accommodation after a short climb on foot, tired and full of impressions. It is surrounded by terraced fields and offers us a fantastic view.

Bike route: 35/50 km, 700/1000 m ascent
Transfer: jeep 3 h, boat 1 h
Overnight stay: romantic eco-lodge, sun island (3900 m)

We let ourselves be enchanted by the first rays of sunshine behind the Illampu and enjoy the fresh, clear air. Today we lace up our trekking shoes and take a walk on the sunny island with fantastic views over Lake Titicaca. With reverence we learn some details about the origin of the Tiwanaku and Inca cultures and their sacred Lake Titicaca, which used to be the seat of the gods, as the sun god is said to have been born on this island. We treat ourselves to a typical lunch (more will not be revealed). There is enough time to relax or to explore on your own.

Trekking: 2-3 h (optional)
Overnight stay: romantic eco-lodge, sun island (3900 m)

We take the boat to the lively harbor town of Copacabana. At least the crescent-shaped curve of the bay is reminiscent of the world-famous district of Rio de Janeiro. We have time to visit the town with its basilica built in Moorish style. The “Virgen Morena” (dark maiden) exhibited there makes Copacabana the most important place of pilgrimage in Bolivia. We then drive on a panoramic route with the jeeps in the direction of La Paz. The city is located at the foot of the local mountain Illimani in a funnel valley that extends at an altitude of 3500 to 4100 meters and on the slopes of which thousands of houses stick closely together. With the cable car we float over the huge sea of ​​houses. La Paz’s cable car network consists of ten lines and is the largest urban cable car network in the world. For the locals this is a practical and efficient means of transport, for us visitors it is an exciting attraction. There is enough time to stroll through the streets and to visit the unique, colorful and eclectic witches’ market and other sights of La Paz.

Transfer: boat 1 h, jeep approx. 3 h
Overnight stay: good city hotel in La Paz (3600 m)

With the escort vehicles we get to the starting point of today’s adventure: the descent on the “Carretera de la Muerte”, the death road. At the beginning still wrapped up thickly, we get rid of our many covers as the altitude decreases. The landscape changes impressively during the descent, from the barren mountain heights we reach a tropical forest. Looking at the deep gorges and tight curves, we are grateful that motorized traffic has recently been routed over a new road. Arriving at our destination for the day in Coroico, we enjoy the warm temperatures and the lush green vegetation in the tropical lowlands (Yungas).

Bike route: 65/73 km, 100/600 m ascent
Transfer: jeep approx. 2 h
Overnight stay: simple hotel (with pool), Coroico (1750 m)

After breakfast we visit (optional) the animal sanctuary Senda Verde. With great effort and commitment, the most diverse animals such as parrots, monkeys and Andean bears are cared for and find a new home here. The afternoon is free.

Bike route: 7/14 km, 100/600 m
ascent Overnight stay: simple hotel (with pool), Coroico (1750 m)

Back on the El Cumbre pass we mount the bike for the last time. Passing mines and slate quarries, we enjoy the descent towards La Paz. From far up we have a wonderful view of the city.

Bike route: 20/25 km, 350/400 m
ascent Overnight stay: good city hotel in La Paz (3600 m)

Transfer from hotel to the airport (3 hours before our international flight).

Arrival at Home

Included meals: B=breakfast; L=lunch; D=dinner

What's Included

Services included in the prices:

  • Domestic flight Uyuni-La Paz
  • Flight taxes and fuel surcharges
  • Support vehicle and transfers (jeep/boat)
  • 16 nights in a hotel in a double room
  • Breakfast the whole trip
  • 10 lunch meals
  • 8 dinners
  • Entrance fees and visits according to the programme
  • Local English-speaking tour guide
  • Bike Adventure Tours guide

Not included:

  • Meals and beverages not listed
  • Tips for local team
  • Flight Europe, USA, La Paz-Round trip
  • Transport your own bike
  • Cancellation cost and assistance insurance
  • Possibly small group surcharge

Entry requirements:

Entry into Bolivia requires either a full vaccination or a PCR test.

Requirements and bike routes

Route profile
Total route 420-550 kilometers and 3500 to 6000 meters in altitude, divided into 13 daily stages, i.e. approx. 30-40 km and 270-460 meters in altitude per day. During the trip we are 90% on gravel and dirt roads, some of which are technically demanding, and about 10% on asphalt roads. On some days, exciting and technically demanding trails can be ridden as an option.

The vertical meters in the Andes, sometimes at altitudes of over 4000 meters, are a lot more demanding than in Europe. Therefore, this trip requires good health. Conditional preparation before the trip is an advantage.

Support vehicle
There are 4 x 4 jeeps on all stages, which transport luggage and food and offer a lift if required.

Bikes

Own bike
Well-maintained mountain bike, preferably a full-suspension bike (Fully). Bike transport is limited per flight route and must be reserved by us in advance. The flight transport costs are at the expense of the customer. You cannot take your own e-bikes with you, as e-bikes (battery packs) are not allowed to be transported on the plane.

Rental bike
Full-suspension rental bikes are available on site on request. Interested parties please register early, only while stocks last.

Rental e-bikes
On request, front-suspension e-bikes are available on site for group trips marked “E-Bike and Bike” and for all individual trips.

Number of participants and registration deadline

Group tour
10 to 14 people

Individual trip
from 2 people

Registration deadline
8 weeks before the start of the trip

Individual trip from 2 people

Ideal travel time

  • April – October

Local tour guide
On this individual trip you will be accompanied by an experienced local team (bike guide, driver). The Bolivian bike guide speaks English.

Travel information AZ

Do you need more information? On our Travel Info AZ page you will find comprehensive information about traveling with Bike Adventure Tours. Or you can contact us directly by email or telephone.

Additional bookable services

  • Transport of your own bike, price on request
  • Full suspension rental bike CHF 390.-
  • E-mountain bike with front suspension CHF 680.- (for mixed groups)
  • Single room from CHF 430.-
  • Flight upgrade business class, price on request
  • MyClimate flight compensation (Economy Class CHF 107.00, Business Class CHF 191.00)

Single supplement

We try to find a roommate for all guests. If this is not possible, we will pay half of this surcharge for BAT’s own trips. Single room, subject to availability

Prices & Dates

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PRICE (USD)

TRAVEL STATUS

— JUL 2023 / — AUG 2023

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FROM/TO

PRICE (USD)

TRAVEL STATUS

— JUL 2023 / — AUG 2023

$ —

🟢

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FROM/TO

PRICE (USD)

TRAVEL STATUS

— JUL 2023 / — AUG 2023

$ —

🟢

Join Now

FROM/TO

PRICE (USD)

TRAVEL STATUS

— JUL 2023 / — AUG 2023

$ —

🟢

Join Now

» Additional dates available upon request
» Rates may vary from July 26th to 31th for the national holidays

Prices (per person):

1 PAX2 PAX4 PAX6 PAX8 PAX10 PAX12 PAX14 PAX
— USD— USD— USD— USD— USD— USD— USD— USD

Deposit for reservations: * — USD (– EUR) ✓ Full payment 40 days before. No refund if you cancel less than 30 days!
Places: 🟢 *Available
Trip-code: Number ►PE-404
Duration: 17 days
Participants: Minimal: 2 Maximal: 15
Members: We don’t have an open group to join – We can open a new group – Contact us!
Country / Location: Bolivia
Mountain Guide: Eric Raul Albino Lliuya
Other dates / additional info: Contact us!

3% early bird discount when booking 6 months prior to departure 2023

Legend Booking-information:
EZZ Single room supplement
🟢 On this trip, places are still available.
🟡 On this trip, only a few places left.
🔴 This trip is sold out / closed.

Eric Raul Albino Lliuya

Expert guide certified by AGOMP
General Sales Manager of Peru Expeditions

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